What is failed back syndrome?
Failed back syndrome, also called failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS), is the layman’s term for postlaminectomy syndrome. Failed back syndrome refers to spinal pain after unsuccessful spinal surgery. Spinal surgeries are generally regarded as successful 95% of the time, not all the time, so it’s possible that your back surgery may fail to relieve your pain or the trauma of the surgery may cause new back pain.
Why do back surgeries fail?
Back surgeries aim to accomplish two things, as needed. First, surgery may be performed to remove pressure off of an irritated nerve, or second, to stabilize a painful joint. If the surgery fails to address the true source of your pain — for instance, your pain was generated by a herniated disc and not the nerve it was pinching — then you may still experience pain after your surgery.
What causes pain after a back surgery?
The primary cause of failed back syndrome is a failure to identify the exact pain generator that’s causing your discomfort. Surgeries with low success rates can also lead to failed back syndrome, such as:
- A discectomy of a herniated disc for lower back or neck pain
- Spinal fusion for multilevel degenerative disc disease
- Spinal fusion surgeries that compromise vertebrae above or below the surgical site
- Lumbar decompression surgery that fails to heal or injures a nerve in the surgical area
It’s also possible that scar tissue can develop after surgery and cause pain or functional issues in your spine. You may also experience continued pain from a secondary pain generator that wasn’t identified prior to your surgery.
How is failed back syndrome treated?
Your initial consultation with a comprehensive evaluation and physical exam. Then they complete electrodiagnostic tests to determine the exact cause of your pain. Post-surgical imaging may be needed as well, including X-rays or an MRI, to see how your back has healed after surgery.
Based on the findings, your doctor may recommend an interventional spine procedure to address your pain. These procedures target the exact source of your pain to relieve your discomfort and decrease the need for a subsequent surgery in the future.
With proper management from the interventional pain specialists at Tarpon Interventional Pain & Spine Care, you can get relief from pain after your unsuccessful back surgery.